New ministries to be operational by November

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cape Town - The new restructured and focussed government will be operational by November, says Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane.

Addressing the media on the new macro structure of government, Mr Chabane said structures to support the new-look ministry portfolios were in the process of being developed and government hoped they would be on track by November.

Following his inauguration as President of the Republic of South Africa, the new leader announced that the structure of cabinet and national departments would be re-organised, to amongst others, enable the state to achieve visible and tangible socio-economic development in the next five years.

Mr Chabane said today that while more focused sectors would make a significant impact in the long term, in tackling important issues facing the country, it was important that the changes in government would not be too disruptive to delivering services to the people.

To this end, he said, ways to mitigate the effects of transition would be found.

He said mechanisms were in place to ensure that changes would be implemented smoothly and as fast as possible. "If we work flat out by November we should have reached completion on the transition and have dealt with the major issues by then."

Mr Chabane explained that while the budget for this year did not take into account the new structures, which were only promulgated on 10 May, their budgets will be included in the 2010 budget.

Providing an explanation on the various changes that the new administration made, Mr Chabane said with regard to creation of a stand alone department of Energy, it was imperative for the growth of the country's economy.

"We need to attend to fuel supply, electricity and renewable energy sources," he said.

He explained that old Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs had been more focused on mining, and it was important for South Africa to get involved with the energy politics of the world.

He said it was also important for the country to ensure affordable and efficient energy.

To give impetus to the priority of food security, it was important to separate agriculture from land affairs.

"It is clear that South Africa as a food producer can not afford to suffer the consequences of an upturn or a downturn in production in the food front," said Mr Chabane.

This was also linked to the fight against poverty and the development of rural areas.

"It is important for government to start making a significant impact on improving rural areas as this would stop the migration to urban areas which causes its own problems. Therefore, it was decided to establish a Ministry for Rural Development and to remove also Land Affairs from Agriculture to have the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform," said Mr Chabane.

Another element of this department will to be to ensure that land is returned to its rightful owners and that it continues to be viable commercial land.

He added that food security and agriculture played a major contribution to the Gross Domestic Product.

Speaking on the former Department of Agriculture becoming Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the minister said this was due to the importance placed on protecting our natural resources as a nation.

To this end the profile of the fishing industry was important and would have an impact on the creation of jobs for communities, said the minister.

He added that the country had some of the largest coastlines.

He said tourism would continue to play a major role in the country and be one of the most viable sectors of the economy. It is also one of the largest employers in the country.

"It was important for government to build capacity in the tourism sector," he said, adding that the Ministry of Tourism was therefore placed in its own department.

The minister said one of government's priorities was to fight crime and in order for it to work- they had to reinstall public confidence to the police. This would mean police are respected in order to ensure that they carry out their jobs properly.

He said government wanted to ensure that South Africa is not a haven for criminals.